Bird reserve pulls in half a million annually

THE Mull of Galloway’s RSPB nature reserve brings in almost £3 million to the local economy, it was revealed this week.

A study by the RSPB showed that 99 percent of the reserve’s employment (13 positions) are funded directly by visitor spending.

The report, called Foundations for a Green Economy: Conservation and local employment across the UK, also shows that in 2009, RSPB Mull of Galloway welcomed more than 20,000 visitors.

Local MP Russell Brown welcomed the study that shows the reserve brings £2.8m into the local economy. He called it a “jewel in Dumfries and Galloway’s crown”. The Dumfries and Galloway MP said: “This study shows the RSPB nature reserve at the Mull of Galloway is a jewel in Dumfries and Galloway’s crown. Our region has some of the most stunning scenery and spectacular wildlife in the whole of the country. People travel from far and wide to enjoy nature and our region welcomes them with open arms. Not only do nature reserves like the RSPB’s at the Mull of Galloway protect our environment, but they are invaluable to our local economy, bringing in 20,000 people and £2.8 million.”

Andrew Bielinski, RSPB Scotland area manager, said: “With its busy sea bird cities and stunning beauty, Mull of Galloway is a great place to enjoy nature. This report proves the worth of nature reserves to the local economy. Not only are these important places to conserve and protect our wildlife and environment, but they also bring tourism, money and jobs to the area, which is always welcome news to smaller rural economies.”

Sharon Makepeace, of VisitScotland, added: “Nature-based tourism is one of the region’s top selling points which we promote in all our marketing materials, including our what to see and do guide and our latest seasonal campaign, Surprise Yourself, which encourages more people in the UK and Ireland to visit Dumfries and Galloway.”

Research by Scottish Natural Heritage, which supports RSPB Scotland’s work in the Dumfries and Galloway area, has revealed that nature-based tourism supports spending of £1.4 billion per year, and 39,000 jobs in Scotland.

Reintroductions of charismatic species can also be a big draw for nature tourism. Last year, it was revealed that the Galloway Kite Trial, a self-guide tour that promotes red kite viewing, supported 20 new jobs in the area in 2009, while visitors who came specifically to see the birds spent in excess of £2.8 million.